The HBCU football season will kick off Saturday evening as the Alabama State Hornets and Howard Bison battle in the 2022 Cricket Wireless MEAC/SWAC Challenge at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Before the game’s pageantry, splendor, and excitement commences, the national media members of the HBCU-Pro Sports Media Association voted in the organization’s 2022 Football Preseason rankings.

Last season, Jackson State (11-2, SWAC Champions) and Bowie State (12-2, CIAA Champions) dominated the 2021 regular season in the Major and Mid-Major divisions. Today, HPSMA voters start the new season rating those teams on top of HBCU football.

The JSU Tigers and head coach Deion Sanders will launch their highly anticipated 2022 campaign against the FAMU Rattlers and head coach Willie Simmons at the Orange Blossom Classic on Sept. 4.

Last season’s victor, Jackson State, ran the table in the conference to represent the SWAC against the MEAC Champions from South Carolina State University in the 2021 Celebration Bowl. However, Buddy Pough’s Bulldogs would upset the Tigers 31-10, and capture the 2021 HBCU Football National Championship.

Can Florida A&M exact revenge on JSU and control the SWAC in hopes of hoisting the 2022 SWAC Championship trophy?

In the Mid Major division, Bowie’s presence at No. 1 is somewhat of a surprise after long-time head coach Damon Wilson’s departure to accept the Morgan State position. Balloters are confident new head coach Kyle Jackson will maintain the Bulldogs’ top-billing.

The Albany State Golden Rams (10-2) won the 2021 SIAC Championship and eventually lost to West Georgia Wolves in the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

Will 2022 finally be the Fayetteville State Broncos’ year in the CIAA and challenges for No. 1 recognition after falling to Bowie for four-straight seasons in conference championship games?

MAJOR DIVISION

The Major Division had the 2021 Celebration Bowl combatants from the SWAC and MEAC and an FCS playoff contender claiming the top positions in the rankings. The 2022 HBCU-Pro Sports Media Association Preseason Rankings open with Jackson State Tigers at No.1. Tied at No. 2 are the Florida A&M Rattlers and South Carolina State Bulldogs.

Voters believe Coach Sanders and his JSU team will outdistance the field, repeat as SWAC Champions, and return to the 2022 Celebration Bowl.

The North Carolina A&T Aggies and Tennessee State Tigers were the other programs receiving first-place votes in the poll.

The Southern Jaguars, Alcorn State Braves, Alabama A&M Bulldogs, Norfolk State Spartans, and North Carolina Central Eagles rounded out the top-ten teams.

Prairie View A&M and Grambling State also received votes.

MID-MAJOR DIVISION

The Mid-Major Division had several familiar names battling for the poll’s top billing. Bowie State, Albany State, Fayetteville State, Savannah State, and a non-ranked Tuskegee team all received at least one first-place vote.

Meanwhile, Bowie remained at the top spot with three first-place votes. However, Coach Giardina’s Golden Rams tallied eight No. 1 ballots over the Bulldogs to earn the No. 2 spot in the rankings.

Fayetteville, Miles, Savannah State, and Tuskegee received first-place votes from the association’s members.

Miles, Fayetteville, Savannah State, Langston, Virginia Union, Morehouse, and Tuskegee completed the rankings, with Kentucky State and Virginia State tied at No. 10.

Fort Valley State, Shaw, Winston-Salem, and Allen also received member votes.


2022 Preseason Rankings

Major Division
1.    Jackson State 156 (9)
T2. Florida A&M 136 (3)
T2. South Carolina State 136 (3)
4.   North Carolina A&T State 98 (1)
5.   Alabama A&M 64
6.   Alcorn State 63
7.   Southern 55
8.   Tennessee State 47 (1)
9.   Norfolk State 46
10. North Carolina Central 42

Other teams receiving votes: Prairie View A&M 30, Grambling State 25
(1st place votes in parentheses)


Mid-Major Division
1.     Bowie State 130 (4)
2.     Albany State 126 (8)
3.     Fayetteville State 121 (1)
4.     Miles 71 (2)
5.     Savannah State 69 (1)
6.     Langston 60
7.     Virginia Union 59
8.     Morehouse 48
9.     Tuskegee 38 (1)
T10. Kentucky State 35
T10. Virginia State 35

Other teams receiving votes: Fort Valley State 30, Shaw 29, Winston-Salem State 21, Allen 20
(1st place votes in parentheses)

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